Since the death of 24-year-old Canadian track runner Daundre Barnaby on March 27, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m raising my children.
Daundre’s tragic accident (he was swimming in the ocean at a training camp in St. Kitts, lost his footing and due to the undertow, was swept out) reminded me of our family trips to the beach in Florida and how my brother and cousins (I was too afraid), dove into the waves with their flutter boards, flipping many times and occasionally struggling to get back. As a parent of two young boys, I am now wondering…. How could they let us play in the ocean? What were my parents thinking?
Of course, I write this in jest. My mother and father were great parents…we survived (another joke…because they’ll be reading this). And, if I had to label their parenting style (as it seems that’s the thing to do these days), I would say they used a common sense style of parenting. I, on the other hand, well, I’m a different story.
On a recent walk to the park, I told my son not to pick up any sticks because he might get a splinter. I proceeded to describe how it would hurt and how I would have to take it out with a needle. My husband stared at me in disbelief, shook his head and told our son to pick up the stick.
Helicopter parent? Maybe a bit.
I love the feeling of walking barefoot on a sun-drenched, wooden deck. I love the warmth…the feeling of freedom…but, I do not love splinters.
I remember getting splinters when I was a child and hating it because my grandmother would take them out with a needle. I remember her taking one out of my foot and another out of the back of my thigh.
But, aside from the occasional splinter, I had a very happy childhood. I grew up with my younger brother and two cousins, who lived down the street. During the long summers we spent the days catching grasshoppers, running through sprinklers, playing at the park until the sun set and walking to Mac’s Milk to buy Popeye cigarettes, Gobstoppers, Nerds and Fun Dip. It was a carefree and innocent time – a time when girls just wanted to have fun and we wore sunglasses at night.
In retrospect, I had a very fulfilling childhood. Although, my parents kept a watchful eye, they let me have fun. They let me feel the soft sand between my toes and they let me taste the salty ocean water as I “jumped” the waves. And, they gave me the opportunity to get a splinter or two.